This company came into being on December 1, 1800 when the Viennese composer Franz Anton Hoffmeister (1754-1812) and the local organist Ambrosius Kühnel (1770-1813) opened a concern in Leipzig known as the "Bureau de Musique." Along with publishing, the new firm included an engraving and printing works and a retail shop for selling printed music and instruments. The very first music published included chamber works by Haydn and Mozart, plus a 14-volume collected edition of keyboard works by Leipzig's own J. S. Bach, who was nearly forgotten by that time. When Hofmeister departed for Vienna in 1805, the young firm had already issued several works by the emerging Viennese composer, Ludwig Van Beethoven (Opp. 19-22; 39-42). Kühnel continued publishing new works, adding those of composers, Daniel Gottlob Türk, Tomasek, and Louis Spohr, who would have a long relationship with the firm.
After Kühnel's death, the enterprise was sold to Carl Friedrich Peters (1779-1827), a Leipzig bookseller. Despite difficuties arising from the aftermath of war (1813) and depression, Peters managed to add new works by Weber, Hummel, Klengel, and Ries to the growing catalog along with his name (now "Bureau de Musique C. F. Peters") before his death. The next owner was a manufacturer, Carl Gotthelf Siegmund Böhme (1785-1855), who published many works of J. S. Bach after the revival of interest in his work with the assistance of Carl Czerny, Siegfried Dehn, F. C. Griepenkerl and Moritz Hauptmann. Ownership of the company was transferred to a charity run by the City of Leipzig for a short period after Böhme's death (1855-1860).
A new era began with the sale of the company to a Berlin music and book retailer, Julius Friedländer, on April 21, 1860. By 1863, Friedländer took on a partner, Dr. Max Abraham (1831-1900), who was instrumental in transforming the firm into a major international publisher. Abraham recognized the vast potential in improvements to music printing that were introduced by the Leipzig engraver Carl Gottlieb Röder, launching the famous "Edition Peters" inprint in 1867. Two color schemes were used for the covers of this revolutionary inexpensive series: a light green cover for works of earlier not affected by copyright restrictions; and pink covers for new, original works acquired by Peters or licensed from other publishers. By 1880, the year Abraham took over the directorship, Peters became increasingly active in issuing new works by contemporary composers of the era. By 1900, fresh works from composers like Brahms, Bruch, Grieg, Köhler, Moszkowski, Reger, Sinding and Wagner greatly enriched the catalog.
Abraham's successor was his nephew, Henri Hinrichsen (1868-1942), who added the works of composers like Mahler, Pfitzner, Reger, Schoenberg, and Wolf. The works of Richard Strauss that were originally issued by Joseph Aibl (later Universal) were acquired by Hinrichsen for Peters in 1932. Hinrichsen's sons Max (1901-1965), Walter (1907-1969), and Hans-Joachim (1909-1940) all entered the business in the 1930s. Following the advent of the Nazi regime in Germany, Max Hinrichsen moved to London, where in 1938 he founded Hinrichsen Edition (renamed Edition Peters London in 1975), and his brother Walter moved to New York where he founded C. F. Peters Corp. in 1948. By 1940, the Nazi regime forced Henri and Hans-Joachim Hinrichsen to turn over the company to Johannes Petschull (1901-2001), who established the Frankfurt company in 1950 in partnership with the Hinrichsen heirs Walter and Max Hinrichsen. The Leipzig facility was re-opened in 1947 and transferred to state ownership of the East German regime by 1949. It's first director (to 1969) was Georg Hillner, who was succeeded by musicologist Bernd Pachnicke in 1969. During the communist era, Peters Leipzig issued contemporary works of East German composers like Dessau, Eisler, and Geisler along with those of Soviet composers like Khachaturian and Shostakovich in addition to a fair number of urtext editions of works by Beethoven, Chopin, Faure, Mahler, Scriabin, and Vivaldi, among others. Following German reunification in 1989, the Leipzig concern was absorbed by the Frankfurt firm, who had absorbed the catalogues of M.P. Belaieff (1971), Schwann (1974) and C.F. Kahnt (1989).
With the aim of merging both their editorial experience and their ressources, the Peters Edition Ltd. (London), the C.F. Peters Corporation (New York), the C.F. Peters Musikverlag (Frankfurt/Main) and the Leipzig firms of the Edition Peters united in August 2010 to form the Edition Peters Group. The owners of this new group are The Hinrichsen-Foundation as well as Martha and Henry Hinrichsen. The steering consist of a board lead by Nicholas Riddle. As for the new name of the company a new logo and layout might be expected in the near future.
Special tips for date determination
Note: Peters is notorious for the practice of affixing "scarecrow" copyright notices to later printings of works first published well before 1900, perhaps the absolute worst of any European publisher. This unfortunate practice was well under way during by Nazi era of 1933-45. Any Peters copyright claim for an edition published before World War II, unless it is for a new work published the very first time, should be regarded as highly dubious. Hopefully, the following compilation of Edition and plate number data, along with confirmed publication dates, will greatly facilitate the dating of Peters scores. Below are some general tips about Peters scores and the process of dating any particular copy.
- The imprint was given as Leipzig and Berlin from Nov. 1867 - March 1880. Leipzig alone from April 1880 onward. The Frankfurt and New York offices did not even open until after World War II, and both reprinted the earlier Leipzig scores extensively.
- The practice of employing pink covers for the works of composers still under copyright (like Grieg) and green covers for editions of public domain composers (like Mozart) started in 1867 or shortly thereafter.
- Title page colors were black and white, ca.1867-1874; black, brown and white, 1875-ca.1890; brownish-red (sepia), ca.1890-ca.1900; red ca.1900 - ca. 1919; black and white ca. 1920-onward.
- Title page frames: ca.1867-1876 - Cherub in upper left holds a string or arrow; ca.1876-1877 - Cherub is holding harp; ca.1878 and onward - Cherub is inside the frame.
- The footnote on first music page mentioning C. G. Röder, the engraver, started in the 1870s. The "Edition Peters" footnotes on all music pages started in the 1890s.
- If the original back cover is present, check the lower left or right-hand corner for two numerals in very small type. These indicate the year in which the back cover of the copy in hand was printed. Thus, 86 = 1886, 04 = 1904, etc. This should be compared with any copyright claim, etc.
- Printings from 1917 and 1918 include the term "Kriegsausgabe" in the upper right-hand corner. In addition, watermarks include an iron cross in place of a six-point star.
- Paper from 1918-1924 tends to be exceptionally brittle due to rosin sizing. These were printed by Leipzig firm CG Nauman. In the mid-twenties, Peters adopted a new printer, Poeschel & Trepte with significantly better paper.
- The iron-cross watermark was re-introduced in 1935 through the destruction of Peter's facilities in the Second World War.
- J. Rieter-Biedermann (1918)
- Henri Litolff's Verlag (1940)
- M.P. Belaieff (1971)
- Edition Schwann (1974)
- C.F. Kahnt (1989)
- Liszt - Emil Von Sauer Liszt Edition
- Schubert - Gesänge für eine Singstimme mit Klavierbegleitung - Complete Songs. Ed. Friedlaender.
- Schumann - Sämtliche Lieder für eine Singstimme mit Klavierbegleitung - Complete Songs. Friedlaender / Dörffel.
- Scriabin - Ausgewählte Klavierwerke (Scriabin, Aleksandr) - Selected Piano Works. Ed. Günter Philipp (1966-1972)
Imprints, Addresses, Agencies
- 1800-1813 - Bureau de Musique, A. Kühnel
- 1814-ca.1860 - Bureau de Musique C. F. Peters
- 1860-present - C. F. Peters
- 1895-present - Edtion Peters
- Leipzig (1800-1945; 1947-1989; 1990-present)
- Berlin (1867-1880)
- Frankfurt (1950-present)
- London (1938-present) - known also as "Hinrischen Edtion"
- New York (1948-present)